‘The Feast’ serves up a foreboding, twisted experience

Noah Levine

All dinner parties could use a severed leg to spice up the evening. 

“The Feast” is a horror film featured in the South by Southwest 2021 Midnighters category. The film, set in the Welsh countryside, surrounds a wealthy family’s dinner party as they try to organize a mining deal on their property. When a quiet young woman named Cadi (Annes Elwy) arrives to be their waitress for the night, the family soon realizes that something sinister is afoot. 

The beautiful scenery ironically contrasts with the grim development of the plot. The bright green fields and blazing sun cast a calming atmosphere over the majority of the narrative, but the world of the film is almost too idyllic, which generates an unsettling vibe throughout the film’s runtime. 

The film does a wonderful job of establishing the uniqueness of each of the family members. Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) is obsessively focused on training for a triathlon and is frequently seen making protein shakes and perfecting his image in the mirror. Guto (Steffan Cennydd), who is escaping from a dark past, sports a black jacket and tattoos, and his room is decked out with lava lamps and dim lighting. Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), a member of Parliament, is uncomfortably proud of his hunting abilities. Lastly, the hostess herself, Glenda (Nia Roberts), is very stressed about making sure her dinner party is as eloquent as possible. 

“The Feast” is a slow burn, introducing audiences to the strange family members and following the mysterious Cadi around as she does chores, forms relationships and spends time alone with herself in a private room. Elwy plays Cadi as very quiet and timid, revealing more in her facial expressions than in her dialogue. At first, Cadi seems meant to represent a “fish-out-of-water” dynamic as an outsider visiting a wealthy gathering. It soon becomes clear that Cadi’s relevance to the plot is much more deadly. 

The film has a very beautiful visual DNA thanks to the combination of its setting and cinematography. The interiors of the family house are modern and filled with natural lighting, an aesthetic not often associated with the horror genre. The accompanying forest is much more in line with the horror visuals of films such as “The Evil Dead.” The camera movements are methodic and eerie, which matches the pace of the plot. Much of the framing is wide, almost always including elements of the surrounding space. The film conveys an observatory atmosphere as audiences watch a wealthy gathering tumble into bloodshed. 

There’s a dark mystery at the heart of “The Feast” that keeps more to itself than it should. Conversations scratch the surface of what exactly is going on, but most is left up to the audience to infer by the time the credits roll. Horror is no stranger to ambiguity and mystery, but when so much of the chaos in the film is caused by a barely-explained element, these moments seem to lack reasoning. There are so many twisted, disgusting visuals scattered throughout the film, but many of them are so random that it’s nearly impossible for the viewer to contextualize them. 

“The Feast” is an artistic stab at a beautifully stylized horror tale that succeeds in the characterization of its leads but leaves much of its terrifying mystery unresolved. 

3.5 Severed Legs out of 5